Documenting your way to your first Colocation Facility.

Before setting up your first Colocation facility, it is highly advised to lay the groundwork by documenting the entire process and knowing where important documents (especially contracts!) will be located.  

Read what Colin Corbett, BlueChipTek Engineer, has to say from his 26 years of experience in building infrastructure from the ground up.

The Wiki, or: How I learned to stop worrying and love documentation!

In the book the Cuckoo’s Egg (By Clifford Stoll) he mentions that if it’s not in his log book then it doesn’t exist. Similarly, if what goes into the colo is not documented, then it doesn’t exist; you don’t know it’s there, in what quantity, and you will be unable to find it if needed.  Time will be lost when trying to triage. 

One of your first steps should be to start creating a wiki, [And an online folder (eg: Dropbox, Google Drive etc.)], to document various aspects of the colo. 

Things you should want to document: 

Important business paperwork 

  • Contracts! 
    • For network circuits 
    • For the datacenter spaces
    • Make sure to have copies of the drafts, and the final signed contract!
  • POs! 
  • Questionnaire Responses
    • Responses to an extensive set of questions sent to the site, (or to an RFP that you sent them).
  • Evaluation notes of all the sites visited 

Contacts of folks related to the project! 

  • Datacenter managers, escalation points 
  • Cabling, electrical, cooling vendors 
  • Parts vendors (Grainger, Anixter, Graybar, CDW, etc.) 

Other Aspects:

  • Addresses of the project 
  • Access requirements, and special incantations needed to get into the site. 
  • A spreadsheet of all the people who need access. This will become your master list of access; (some datacenters will want you to send them a sheet of who gets access) 
  • Every bit of information about crossconnects. (crossconnect IDs, order numbers, ports take on the panel, who pays, connector type, your local Port, their remote port, IPv4, IPv6 allocations etc.) 
  • The building and cage layout (ideally, near, mid and long term). 
  • Contact information for all your peers, upstreams etc. 
  • A 911 page (the absolute basics: who to contact in an emergency, how to get in, etc.) Who to escalate to, and how soon.
  • Network Architecture,  (Diagrams, documents, links to online monitoring systems etc.)
  • Inventory of parts in each Colo.

Prior to visiting a DC, send the datacenter a series of questions in advance. Be clear about the amount of space you are looking for, how much power and weight your cabinets use. Confirm that they can meet your needs. And then do an on-site detailed walk through to double check.  

Because of the significant value of the contract, Datacenters can sometimes embellish the truth. Always do an on-site in-person evaluation.

In our next blog, we will discuss the different types of colos along with their features and capabilities, to figure out which colo will fit your datacenter needs.

For help on sizing up your racks and the sizing number of your racks, you can fill out the contact form to reach our BCT Integration Team.